Non Alcoholic Beers

At the behest of my good lady we had a dry January and so I had a reason to try some booze free brews.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.44.46Jever Fun (.05% abv/£1)

Made by a respected German brewer and despite its rather ironic name (those crazy Germans with their “unique” sense of humour) I thought this wasn’t bad at all. It’s price tag of a quid is pretty attractive as well.

Smells of normal lager green hops hint of sweet malt a bit metallic. Crisp fresh, nice mouth feel, bitter in the right places, it’s dry, balanced finish no nasty aftertaste. It actually tastes better than a lot of alcoholic McLagers and was quite good with a spicy curry. It does need to be drunk very cold though & relatively quickly. As the ‘Fun’ loses carbonation and warms more uneven vegetal flavours emerge making it less pleasant to drink.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.45.08 Rothaus Alkoholfrei (.05% abv/£2)

Another German offering with a slightly sweet stinky malt nose. It’s clean, easy drinking with no aftertaste. Reminded me a bit of light Swedish beers (Skol and Falcon) I drank when I first visited Scandinavia back in the 90’s. Not bad at all. Tasting blind, I’m not sure I could tell it was non alcoholic. A good sign.

I can’t say that I will be rushing out to stock up on either of the beers but I can say hand on heart that if you are unable to or choose not drink alcohol but still want a decent brewski and either of these will do.

I bought both beers from The Beer Boutique which is a lovely beer shop in Putney.


Hung Out to Dry in January

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 10.40.26As a food and drink blogger taking an entire month off the sauce seemed utter madness. Why would I do that to myself? I really like good booze, nay I love good booze! “Libational” religious experience is common parlance in my vocabulary. But at the behest of my fiancée, who was also abstaining for the month of January, I decided to give it a go.

There have been plenty of opportunities to slip up: a free bar at the opening of Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 (post to follow), a friend’s raucous house party. Though most challenging of them all have been the numerous delightful dinners at home with my lady. Between us sits a very unwelcome, but familiar guest, murky miserable looking squash is his name and washing away any culinary joy is his game. Between bites, are half heard mumblings, curses to our puritan resolve, while wonderful beers, ciders, wines and spirits sat mere feet away calling to us like sirens.

During this time of reflection, my understanding of why I drink has come more clearly into focus. It’s not so much the “two pint euphoria” or the “winegasm” I miss (though those are some good vibes). It’s the ceremony of opening a bottle of wine that’s been laid down a few years, the discovery of a new brewery whose beer sings at the first sip, the sound ice makes when it’s stirred with bourbon to make an Old Fashioned. But most of all, I miss the marriage of well-made food and good drink. Sure there are some very good non-alcoholic matches for some cuisines. You only have to look at the Lassi with an Indian or Green Tea with Sushi. But for me nothing can quite match the harmony that is achieved with pairing the right wine or beer or cider or spirit with a dish. The word sacred may seem a step too far for some, but not me.

On the plus side I’ve discovered some very good alcohol-free beers: the ironically named Jever ‘Fun’ and more to the point Rothaus  Alkoholfrei.

When I started out on this little experiment in temperance, I didn’t believe I possessed the will power to abstain from one of my greatest passions for a whole month, that somehow I would lose my nerve and give in.

But I did it; I abstained for a whole month.

The 2 things I learned?

1. I am strong enough to go a month (or longer if I so chose) without drinking.

2. I am unlikely to take a month off drinking ever again.